JJ Traynor will be back for his junior season at the University of Louisville. The versatile 6’8 forward from Bardstown made his decision known
Traynor, the son of former U of L player Jason Osborne, had a promising freshman season in 2020-21, appearing in all 20 of Louisville’s contests and posting averages of 3.9 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. He then appeared in just 10 games this past season, going nearly two full months from early December to early February without seeing the court. Traynor’s lack of playing time was one of the larger mysteries of the 2021-22 season, and one which grated on the nerves of many a Cardinal fan all winter.
Interim head coach Mike Pegues addressed the Traynor situation following a loss to Notre Dame in February:
“I want to make something very clear about J.J., because I know there’s a lot of questions out there about him. To start the season for the first six games, J.J. was coming back from a hamstring injury, and he was not at his best. He was not at his best to start the season, and some guys passed him early on. So I didn’t feel comfortable starting J.J., or certainly even playing J.J. in the first six games.
Then coach Mack comes back, and now he’s the head coach up until four games ago, where I’m the head coach. During that time where Coach Mack was the head coach, we thought J.J. was not necessarily out-playing Matt Cross, who has some big plays for us throughout the season. Not necessarily playing out-playing Jae’Lyn Withers, or Malik Williams who had a good stretch, and Sydney Curry or Roosevelt Wheeler. We didn’t necessarily think he was out-playing those guys during that stretch.
Then I come back, and now I’m the head coach for four games. Against Duke and Carolina, I thought we had a good thing going, and J.J. hadn’t quite done anything in practice to lead me to believe that he should play. Then we go to Syracuse. Prior to Syracuse, J.J. was in the midst of thinking about trying to get a redshirt, and that’s his right.
In an effort to make sure that he could potentially get that redshirt year back, he asked me, “Coach, I don’t know if I should play.” He didn’t want to play, so that’s why I didn’t put him in during the Syracuse game. Of course, I won’t put that kids in, in that situation. Especially if he’s a good kid. Fast forward to today, I text J.J. and said, “Have you made a decision? What do you want to do?” He said, “Coach, I think my chances of getting a waiver are slim to none, and I want to play.” Incidentally, he had two really good practices - literally his two best practices of the year.
We’ve got some things going on with some other guys at that position now. So it opened up a situation for him to play, and I’m proud of him. Because the kid has been through a lot. He’s battled, he’s fought through not playing, which is hard. I want to see him continue to battle and fight in practice, and out-compete guys the way that he did against Notre Dame tonight. If he does that, he’s gonna continue to play. I hope that clarifies things.”
Traynor appeared in each of Louisville’s final seven games of the regular season, but did not see the floor in either of their games in the ACC tournament.
I think everyone is well aware of Traynor’s skillset. Now we get the opportunity to see if a new system and a new coaching staff is all that was needed to get that skillset to flourish.
The only player from last year’s team still left to make a decision is Roosevelt Wheeler, and I believe we’ll be hearing that one in the very near future as well.